The living room is cleaned and spill-proofed, the drinks chilling, the food is on its way — you even remembered to invite that friend-of-a-friend (along with the squabbling couple and the sports stats know-it-all). And if that sounds like a holiday get-together, let’s face it: for Americans, Sunday’s big game may as well be a holiday long weekend — especially since so few people show up for work the next day. But like many a long weekend, watch parties also create a lot of waste — single-use plates, plastic cups and utensils, even all that packaging your snacks come in. So, what better way to upgrade your party than by emphasizing eco-awareness while you cheer on your team? Look no further than our playbook of sustainable hacks to help you score a hosting touchdown.
Make decorations yourself or source sustainably
Deck out your space with reusable decorations like green, white, and striped bunting that can be used for other festive gatherings. You can purchase paper-based materials rather than plastic or head to your local craft store and create DIY alternatives. Make anything from football-shaped banners to simple triangular bunting out of brown and white construction paper. Thrift a simple tablecloth that can be used for other events and use natural elements wherever possible. If you’re thrifting secondhand, don’t pass up on good football decor even if it’s plastic. Sustainability is largely about using what’s already available to you.
Whip up green grub
Serve up a winning spread of sustainably-sourced snacks and appetizers for your watch party. Choose local, organic ingredients for your recipes, and consider plant-based options that can still please a diverse crowd. Avoid excessive packaging by buying in bulk or making your snacks from scratch. Complement your menu with refreshing homemade beverages to reduce the need for store-bought drinks in plastic bottles. Locally-sourced beer and wine are also fantastic options. If you don’t wish to meal prep, support a sustainable local business by picking up an order in advance. Look for eateries that focus on plastic-free packaging, local ingredients, and fair wages for their employees.
Adopt and encourage recycling
Encourage recycling by setting up clearly-labeled bins for cans, bottles, and other recyclables during your party. For the most sustainable approach, aim toward using real dishes and utensils instead of disposable ones — especially if they’re plastic. The same goes for napkins — use cloth, not paper, and then easily wash them with laundry detergent sheets and store them for next year’s big game. For waste that can’t be recycled, consider setting out a compost bin. This way, you’ll divert a significant portion of your party waste from landfills. This includes things like leftover fruits, vegetables, and bread. Avoid composting meat, bones, or anything highly processed. Your community may have a composting program, otherwise, it’s an excellent opportunity to start your own composting journey.
Energy-efficient entertainment for the win
No one is suggesting you purchase an entirely new television, but keep your eye out for an Energy Star-rated television when you are looking to upgrade. These televisions are, on average, 25% more energy efficient than conventional models, allowing you to save energy costs in all usage modes: sleep, idle, and on. In the meantime, see what steps you can take to make your current set-up more energy-efficient. This can be as simple as using a smart power strip to easily turn off all your electronics when they’re not being used. Sometimes the little things can make a big difference in the move toward a more sustainable lifestyle.
Set the lights
Establish the party mood at your watch party by turning off the overhead lights and floor lamps with warm LED bulbs. Soy-wax candles can also be a nice touch for creating an inviting party space. Remind your guests to shut off lights when they leave an empty room. If you can keep up this routine, you’ll save money on your power bill in the long term.
Consider eco-friendly transportation options
If you’re inviting guests from near and far, encourage them to carpool or take public transportation to minimize your party’s carbon footprint. If you’re feeling generous, you can pick up your friends to offer a safe and economical ride. For those who live too far away, why not arrange for a virtual viewing party to connect with them without the need for travel?
Plan low-impact activities
During breaks in the broadcast, have some fun with low-impact activities. These can range from board games to football-themed trivia to bingo to even cornhole. Just remember to use resources sparingly and opt for organic materials like paper and wood over plastic.
Clean up by leaving no trace
Once it’s all over, gather up leftovers, decorations, and trash. Recycle what can be recycled and properly dispose of any remaining waste. Also, familiarize yourself with items that can’t be recycled, including most single-use packaging, soiled napkins and paper towels, and pizza boxes. Encourage your guests to take home any leftover food to prevent food waste. You can also freeze leftovers. Some local shelters may be able to accept your leftovers, too.
With these simple eco-friendly strategies, you can ensure your watch party is not only a memorable good time but a sustainable celebration. So, throw on your favorite team jersey and make this Sunday a win for both the teams and the planet.